The Raleigh Naturalist

October 20, 2008

Blue Ridge Parkway and other waypaths

   The Blue Ridge Parkway serves as a ribbon of access to the peaceful grace of both rural and wild scenes in the NC mountains.  The stretch surrounding Doughton Park, where Cara and I camped in August, offers more of the agricultural type.  The Parkway passes through currently used farms, with cows, sheep, goats and small gardens.  Near Doughton Park is Brinegar Cabin, whose old style of mountain farm living was enacted, and thus preserved, well into the 20th century. I posted a set of documentary photos about it at Pecans & Mistletoe, which is fast becoming the home of my explorations into heritage sustainable agriculture as well as a site for extended nature projects of all kinds. The nature images from our trip are on a post at the Raleigh Nature Photo Archive, which, like Pecans & Mistletoe, is a blogspot blog where I load and display most of the pictures for The Natural History of Raleigh, which is the name of my overall nature project and the future book which will culminate the work of these three blogs: Raleigh Nature, the main site, Raleigh Nature Photos, the photo album site, and Pecans & Mistletoe, the nature project site.  Occasionally some piece of all this leaks over into Raleigh Rambles, my personal blog, where I can talk about anything I want.

   Getting back to our mountain trip, we saw a beautiful pair of walking sticks at our campsite on the grassy knob of Doughton Park.  There are campsites at this park where you can walk out your tent, start down the hillside behind you, and go for a day or so before hitting a road.  We took a long hike through a nearby wooded trail and saw lots and lots of mushrooms, as you will see on the photo album.  Below is a particularly lovely grouping of shrooms, moss, and liverworts.

    Brinegar Cabin, which is right on the Parkway, really reminds you of how closely we lived with nature until not so many decades ago.  The Spring House (which is now contaminated by a Park Service outhouse built uphill from it), the naturally cooled food cellar, and the “linsey-wooly” products and cobbling service which generated cash money, all are vivid reminders of a way of life that, at this site, lasted until the 1930’s.  Best of all was the sights and lessons of growing and processing flax, which excites papermakers like ourselves very much.

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